Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Spider For Your Thoughts

Almost every morning this summer I have been the witness and happenstance accomplice to the death of a spider.  I always promise myself that I will find some meaning in the daily event but before I reach my first stop, I have, without fail completely forgotten to give a damn about the spider.

In my time on earth I have killed untold numbers of spiders. To ease my own fears as well acting as an executioner for the request of others. If a respectful distance can be kept I do not go out of my way to slay the much maligned but very necessary arachnid but I would still make a very bad Hindu.

This summer of spider miseries is not my fault.  I just have a front row seat to two minutes of terror and then the eventual death but  I feel like I should at least learn something from it.

It happens like this. Every morning, I get into my car with workout bag and computer satchel slung over each shoulder, a cup of coffee gripped in one hand and the keys in the other. By the time all this stuff has been hurled into the vehicle, the coffee secured, and the Iphone synched, I have no brain capacity left to do anything but crank the damn thing and back out of the driveway.

It is not until I reach the first stop sign two hundred yards up the road that I notice a spider has made a web in-between my rear view mirror and the door.

My car coming to a stop and the silver spider web jiggling always draws my peripheral vision and I am again reminded of what is about to unfold.

The spider is usually smallish but sometimes bigger, either way it can find no refuge from the wind as I pull from the stop sign and start picking up speed.

They always make it to the stoplight before the main road. Visibly shaken, they have a chance to regain their wind scrambled wits if they are lucky and the light is red, if it is green. Their ride is almost at an end.

As I turn out onto the main road and the speedometer clips over 35 all they have built starts coming unraveled. There is the briefest second where the spider is blown right beside my window and as the car hits 40 they cling no more and are gone.

I assume they die,  but the little bastards probably just shake it off and go on being efficient bug catchers while also acting as the ultimate squatters.  Even if they don't die, it looks like a horrible way to start a morning.

I always spare a moments thought to ponder the recurring tragedy, but a moment is usually all I can manage. I also refuse to feel any level of guilt for just driving my car without malice or spider killing intent, but I also feel a bit bitter at the spiders for putting such power in my right foot.

The fact that this keeps happening over and over is what I should be learning from this.  Apparently, my driver side rear view mirror is prime spider real estate, and they must line up, draw numbers or battle each for the right to weave their delicate trap every balmy night in between my metal door and plastic mirror.

I know they are just spiders and probably never consider that the guy that was there the night before is never there for a second night but I would think us humans would be able to make such a connection. Somehow I get the feeling we can be just as shortsighted.

Like the spider, all we want is fertile soil to sow our ambitions. We are all looking for the prime spot to set up our wares or weave a web of interest that might ensnare someones attention long enough to glean some sustenance from them. How many of us are getting taken for rides we never saw coming and how many of us should have known better?

The thing that made this morning different was not once seeing the spider nestled in the rear view mirror because trust me, like clock work, a spider was there.

This morning was different because the sun caught the dew of a great web that stretched out in a tree above my car. The webs brilliance and beauty was only noticeable for a fading moment before the morning sun moved a breath and the silver strings vanished. In that moment I saw a master applying his trade as he sat in black and yellow majesty among the center of his shimmering kingdom.  The nights profits snugged away safe in woven silk and from the sheer size of this spider king it was easy to tell that he ate this well every night (HE might be a SHE I don't know).

The thought occurred to me that this spider had this web stretched out over the  tree for a long time. If spiders can laugh I am sure this fat bastard laughs every night as one of his brethren weaves their own coffin and he says not a word.

Overcome with the need to start this day off with something significant I walked into the garage. Picking up a broom with satisfaction on my face I strode out to the web and wrecked that fat son of a bitch's empire and brought him low. I mean literally low, like right in front of my face and then I was not smiling anymore.

Being the nimble man I am I skidded back into attack position with this monster dangling two feet in front of my face. I was prepared to end him but the fact that he just hung there without trying to shimmy up into the tree or jump onto my face soothed my righteous anger. That and the fact that I was not sure how long it would take kill this beast and I did not have all morning.

I decided verbal abuse would at least make me feel better so I called him an asshole and swatted him with the broom. He went gently hurtling into the trees where a sparrow caught him in mid flight without so much as a thank you. So much for nature and mercy.

Hopefully some other guy will get a shot to weave his web across the tree. Maybe that guy won't be so smug and might even be willing to help out the spider who fancies my alluring window of death this evening.

Its a nice thought, but my coffee is empty and I feel certain I will witness more ambitious spiders having bad mornings.  Perhaps there are some other lessons to glean from this observation, but perhaps spiders are just stupid and I should pay more attention to the road.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Google Glass. A future so bright you will have no place to hide.

Before reading any further I would encourage everyone to click THIS link and follow the instructions.

Everyone wearing the fashion essential for the twenty first century? Good, onward we go.

I should say first off that I love technology. I love living in a age where the impossible becomes the mundane every other month. I love the coolness of gadgets and all the great things they allow us to do. I also have been slightly terrified of machines since seeing Terminator.

My affair with technology is like dating a exotic girl that is always full of amazing surprises, yet you know she is perfectly capable of setting fire to the bed while you sleep in it.

I have been reading about Google Glass for a long while now and the buzz has died off a bit but the beta testing goes forward and we are less than a year or two away from seeing and using them on a regular basis.

My fascination with this technology is largely due to author Daniel Suarez's fantastically entertaining book's  DEAMON and FREEDOM. These books lay out an amazing display of new technology being used in ways I had never dreamed, but now seem all but reality.

The books being several years old are uncannily accurate at describing Google Glass, and while fiction, it turns out that there is very little fiction involved in the technology and its possibilities. If anyone has actually read these books you will understand why my heart froze in awe and terror when I first saw a blurb about Google Glass.

The recent outing of the NSA has proven that the privacy paranoids had more than a little merit and the relative weak outcry from the general public has proven that most of us really don't care all the much about privacy. I mean we kinda care, but we don't care so much that we are actually going to do anything to change the comfortable status quo.

I guess what I am saying is that the America of today does not care in the same way that the original founders of America cared. Can you imagine how the news of government spying on private citizen emails would have gone over with the same group of people who overthrew the worlds biggest power over some taxes on tea?

"So let me make sure I have this strait Mr Government Official. Every letter I send to anyone for any reason will be opened and read by the government we just got all bloody to create because we thought the last one we had was a bit too hands on."  Inquires the citizen.

"Yeah, but we just have to make sure no Natives are planning a scalping party and stuff." Says the Government Official.

"But what about all that stuff in that document that listed all these rights we are all supposed to have?" The citizen further inquires.

"Yeeaahh about that. I mean we wont use anything against you as long as you are not planning shenanigans." The government official says with an assuring smile.

"Yeeaahh,  I think we are going to have to get bloody again." The citizen replies stuffing powder into his blunderbuss.

As ridiculous as that bit of dialogue is I cannot fathom the reaction to such a government invasion of privacy going any other way in that day and time.

Regardless of how much we care, privacy is an illusion. At the moment it is a good enough illusion that we would all rather play along but it seems we are tiptoeing toward the line where even this most complacent of American generations will no longer see fit to play along.

The real question of the future is not whether or not your information is private but just how many people and what kind of people will have access to it.

Google Glass brings to the masses technology that will redefine privacy. The hardware combined with existing facial recognition software and access to islands of databases that we have all happily contributed too makes some amazing things possible.

In Daniel Suarez'es book Freedom groups have formed what he calls a darknet. Member privileges of being in the darknet include a stylish pair of sunglasses that sound just like Google Glass. The heads up display offering up amazing bits of information about the world. The people you see through the glasses offer up their medical charts, credit ratings, criminal records and bank account info among other things and the ability to make use of such sensitive information in real time has some disturbing possibilities.

We already live in a world where government hackers and black hat hackers have become the new priesthood, our secrets open to their curiosity and discretion. Now imagine a world where that on the spot information can be used in face to face scenarios and not just via the internet.

Then there is the fun possibilities of people basically recording every waking moment of their day and the places they go. They are also taking in the people and events that happen in those places and just consider the massive amounts of data that can be extracted from such a fully documented day from just one person in a single location.  Actually, oncoming reality gives way to another modern Sci Fi writer of note, Neal Stephenson. In his book Snowcrash he describes what he called gargoyles.

Gargoyles, as Stephenson described them were people whose job consisted of loitering about public spaces,  loaded down with cameras, microphones and other real time data collecting tools. This massive amount of seemingly random bits of sound and video would be uploaded to the network for sell to news outlets, governments or anyone else willing to pay. This form of news gathering has already become the standard, the only difference is that all the idiots on twitter are happy to just give them the information instead of being compensated for it.

If anyone is holding out on the notion that anything you do online is private then you have about the same notion of reality as the record executives who think they can actually stop people from downloading songs for free. That is not a topic even up for debate, what is unknown is how people gathering real time information on people outside of the digital world will further degrade the publics privacy.

When it comes to the internet it is easy for people to delude themselves that privacy actually exist, because those intrusion often go unseen. It is when people start to realize that their real world is being recorded not just by "authorized" government networks but by literally everyone and everything around them that the facade of privacy really drops away.  It will be at this point that change will come and hopefully it will be a sensible and measured change, but black powder and blunderbusses are always a possibility in America.


Thursday, August 29, 2013


College football is here and for my Clemson Tigers it kicks off this year with an epic bang. The level of give a damn is as high for a game as I can ever remember. Playing Georgia should be our birthright and  I am not going to lie, I miss being an SEC fan.

Both sides of my family are from Alabama and I grew up the son of an Auburn grad. It was not till I was a student at Clemson that I made the switch and even then it was hard. I did not want to let go of that attachment I had to not just Auburn but the SEC. It was more than just football to me and everyone else.

As a kid in the eighties I remember not being all that proud of where I was from. Everyone around me was loud and proud but I always got the feeling it was a pride born out of insecurity.

Make no mistake about it, the south to this day still suffers from the toll of post civil war reconstruction. It is only in the last twenty years that the South has begun to see real economic and social progress throughout parts of the region. Still,  if you want people to instantly underestimate your intelligence just speak with a southern accent anywhere north of Virginia and west of Texas. There are some awesome things about being from Dixie but growing up in the south, especially the rural south leaves you with a good many hurdles to overcome.

However, there was one thing that would make my chest swell with pride, Bo Jackson and Auburn Football. I knew that it was impossible that any football game could be as well played or cared about more than the Alabama Auburn game. I knew that Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida and Tennessee were evil, vile institutions supported by the scum of the earth but I also knew that they were the only teams who had the ability and the right to challenge my Auburn Tigers.

We knew that football in the south was the best in the world and this was at a time when the national sports media was hesitant to recognize it. Sure, they might give Alabama some props from time to time, but it was obvious that they wanted to talk about Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State and Southern Cal. But as more games became available to watch by everyone in the nation it became evident where the best football was being played and more importantly who's fans cared the most.

All those teams I hated and fan bases I loathed, those people were also the only ones who understood how important college football was to our identity as a people and a place. It was truly the only thing we could put in front of the nation and say "Nobody does this better than us." This chip resides on the shoulder of almost every old school SEC fan and binds them into more than just a football conference. What has always made the SEC the best football conference is not the quality of the teams but the passion of the fans.

There are plenty of years when the SEC is not the best or even second best conference from top to bottom in terms of football but with the exception of  Kentucky every other fan base loves college football and their team with everything it has. Old Miss, who has never actually been that awesome at football is one of the best tailgating experiences in college football. There are never any half empty stadiums or Saturdays that don't matter in the SEC. Everyone cares.

This is what I miss about being a fan of a SEC school. I miss opposing fans that give a damn. As a Clemson fan we have Florida St, Georgia Tech, and NC State as the three teams on our conference schedule every year who give a damn. It does not matter how good or bad Duke, Wake Forest or North Carolina is. They will not bring more than a couple thousand fans on the road and the Clemson fans traveling will literally take over their home stadium. To have a conference where everyone is invested in football from top to bottom is what makes the SEC the best conference in football.

ESPN discovered this fact about fifteen years ago and has invested itself heavily into the future of the SEC and manipulated the landscape of college football to further that agenda.

I am not a fan of NASCAR but it is also a regional passion that has been watered down by popularity and expansion and SEC football will soon see the same fate I am afraid. The fire that fueled this passion was having this level of excellence and uniqueness in a place full of struggle in a region looked down upon. It will not survive the pedestal that ESPN has put it on. It will not endure the Johnny come lately fans that come with all the swagger but lack the chip on their shoulder of the long time sufferers. It will break apart as it spreads itself thin, into areas of the country that have nothing in common with one another and it will be a great national treasure eroded.

For now, and from its inception the SEC has been the standard for what the college football experience should be about and whenever Clemson gets to play an SEC school we get to be a part of it and it feels like coming home.

Friday, June 14, 2013


Human nature gives mankind an instinct to leave something behind, to make a mark on the world. Most of us fail at this completely but some manage to leave an imprint in ways they never expected.

People create buildings that inspire and their legacy lives on in the brick and mortar. Others write books and their ideas and words keep going forward long after their own pen has been stilled. It is rare however that we attach a person to the symbols we take on as part of our own identity.

Most people could not tell you the names of the men and women who created the symbols that make up our lives. That guy who drew the fish in the sand at the early Christian marketing meetings gets no credit whatsoever but what a simple and lasting thing of beauty he created.

John Antonio is a name most people do not know, but he recently passed away. He was a talented designer at the Henderson advertising firm in my hometown of Greenville South Carolina. He was also the man who designed the tiger paw logo for my Alma-matter, Clemson University.

John Antonio's tiger paw logo, now a widely known and copied symbol is held dear to the hearts of many people. They wear it on shirts and hats, they tattoo it on their bodies and paint it on their cars. It is a symbol people wrap part of their identities around. It is a powerful legacy.

The full story of how that design came to fruition can be found at several web sites. http://www.greenvilleonline.com/article/20130530/NEWS/305300047/Antonio-creator-Clemson-s-paw-logo-dies

I actually had the privilege of interviewing him in 1998 when I was a intern at a local T.V station and I remember being entranced by how he described his craft. listening to him taught me to see the beauty and effort that goes into the simple symbols that are all around us.

This is a nod to all those talented people drawing fish in the sand,  and apples on computers. Most of use will never know the names of the people who created them but there is a trail of paw prints all over the world that lead back to a man, his name was John Antonio and he left an imprint.


Monday, June 3, 2013

The Red Wedding washes the internet in tears.


Link to Artist          https://www.facebook.com/ConorCampbellArtist?ref=hl

When I came to this part of the book several years ago I had to just put the book down and walk away for a couple of weeks. If there was ever a more soul crushing moment in modern literature I have not found it.

I have not seen the episode yet but looking over the internet this morning they have succeeded in bringing that same shocked devastation to the audience last night. Congrats to them and woe to Winterfell and anyone fool enough to become emotionally invested in a George RR Martin character.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

When Your Vision Gets Blurry.

I was blessed with some pretty good genes.  I have Strait teeth, a decent head of hair and family on both sides who stay pretty healthy till late in life.  But my eyesight has always been abnormally good and the last time it was tested it was 20/12.  My vision in the natural world is clear and defined but what I am talking about is the other kind of vision.  That metaphorical vision of how we see ourselves and our passions, the things we see ourselves accomplishing and the path to get there.

If you have not guessed by now, I like metaphors.  Complicated things seem clearer to me when I turn them into something else and so you will just have to come along for the ride if you want to find out where we are going.  Speaking of life, metaphors and rides…

If there was a chart on the wall at the DMV of life I am pretty sure my “life driving license” would come with some restrictions.  There are times when the vision for where I am going and who I am is crystal clear but most of us come to a point where our vision gets blurry. How do we move forward when we can’t see where we are going? This becomes an all-consuming question for most everyone at some point in their journey.  

Most people just pull the car over on the side of the road and wait for the things to get clearer.  Letting my mind imagine people as cars I see a vision that haunts me.   Post apocalyptic freeways littered with the stalled out lives of people who just pulled over to the side and decided not move forward. Some of them are covered in rust and look like they will never move again. Others are idling with engines revving and looking for a moment to merge.  They all lost their vision, they all came to a stop and most will never start moving again.  

Maybe the best advice I ever heard on loosing your direction in life was “Its almost impossible to turn a parked car. Keep moving, even if it is the wrong direction, you can turn around once you get going.”

Then there are the brave and the stupid, with pedal pushing floorboard.  A few lucky souls will bull their way through life like this, but most of them end up in a fireball that causes lots of casualties.

There is only one smart thing to do when you lose your vision for life. Get right on the bumper of someone who knows where the hell they are going.

This metaphor is on empty but the idea has a lot of tread.

Helping someone else achieve their vision is a worthy endeavor at any time.  But working towards a passion, even someone else’s is a great way to remember what having a focused vision feels like. There is also the benefit of being around people who are excited about something.  The positives to just being in the room with people who are passionate about something are amazing.

 Give everything you have to someone else’s dream and sooner or later that vague idea of yours will crystalize into a vision and you will have a network of people excited about seeing it with you.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Daft Punk. Album Review


I have always wanted to do a review of highly a anticipated record. I am now old enough that I remember when the people who reviewed music actually had some influence and words like "Album"  "Record" or "CD" did not sound so antiquated to my own ears.

So tonight when I got the text from my long time brother in tunes "Daft Punk's Ram leaked tonight, lets take a ride" I got a feeling I have not had in a long time. The feeling of anticipation from hearing new music from a great artist.

It was midway through the third track that I wished I could review this music that was blaring out of my car stereo and two high hats later I realized that I have a blog and can write whatever I want. The fact that nobody will read it does not mean it cannot be just as insightful as the review some hipster with a wax mustachio over at Pitchfork is scribbling out with ink and quill; (Really, HUGE generalization.  I have no idea what the reviewer at Pitchfork looks like. But I am pretty sure they do use ink and quill to write all reviews which are then transcribed on a steampunk keyboard into a handcrafted turn of the century font.)

I am sure some of you are dubious as to my musical credibility and rightfully so but I assure you that I have far more taste than talent. I know I am in my late thirties, married with children and not exactly rocking the club scene, but I do suffer from insomnia and I have spent a decades worth of wee hours scouring the internet for something great to listen to, and with that much information to cover you learn to get pretty picky. Plus I have a picture of me in a cool Daft Punk t shirt at a appropriately unrelated Smashing Pumpkins show with my sister last week.

Some of you are also probably thinking that I sound like a huge Daft Punk fan and therefore I am going to gush over just about anything the robot headed Frenchmen put out but I promise you, if it sucks I will tell you.  I am going to go ahead and save you the suspense. It does not suck.

I was taking an easy potshot at hipster mentality earlier but I find myself caught in the classic hipster quandary. I was a huge fan of Daft Punk and Electronic music before most people in America and especially in the south eastern United States. So I am a little pissy when some kid who just realized last week that Linkin Park is not awesome wants to debate me on what sub genre Daft Punk should be classified under. Nobody likes to hear I told you so or really gives a crap that you knew something before they did so you just keep your mouth shut and be happy that more people are listening to better music. The massive American surge toward EDM over the last three years, along with absolutely zero, technical, talent or cost barrier to get someone's music to the masses has made for a lot of weak sauce lately.

Enter Daft Punk and Random Access Memories.


First and foremost please do not listen to this album with shitty speakers at low volume or on horrible headphones with a bad bootleg copy of the MP3 files. Half the beauty of anything from Daft Punk is the production and if you do not listen to it at a pretty high volume with half way decent equipment then you are not hearing the same music that I am talking about.

Random Access Memories. It's good. No, it is more than just good, I just cant say how much more just yet. For those of us who had to wait on a leaked copy and have had less than twenty four hours to digest a fairly complex album it is hard to say what level of good we are talking about. There is a cohesion about the record that will take time to sort out and for me that is always the real fun, figuring out what message a great artist is trying to send.

The first message from The Robots is pretty clear. "Nice job learning to press the play button kids. Now put away your laptop and pick up an instrument." The entire album was recorded using analog and you can feel it. The layers rest on each other differently and there is something more intimate about the sound that digital has yet to provide.

Another theme that comes through is that disco can convey more emotions than just the urge to shake your ass. There are a lot of tender and melancholy songs on Random Access Memories. "The game of love,""Within" and "Instant Crush" are three songs that explore some kind of pensive robot slow jam.

The other main message on the album would have to be,  Don't forget to shake your ass.
"Lose yourself to dance" and "Get Lucky" are the radio ready hits. "Lose yourself to dance" is especially infectious and it will have dance floors stomping for a long time. The Robots could have easily made eleven songs just like these two and made most people ecstatic but it is obvious they were trying for more and I think they achieved it.

If I wanted to sound like a seasoned and unbiased reviewer I might say that this record plays like another sequel soundtrack. This one for "WALL-E 2." Self aware robots can't dance all the time. I would love to see that movie actually so for me its not a detraction.

Most people are going to be scratching their heads over "Touch." The record comes to a awkward halt right in the center of the album with this slow moving broadway score sung by an unlikely front man. I have a feeling that this song might grow on me but as of right now its the only song I want to skip.

There are a couple of songs on the record where it takes a minute for the song to come alive. Admittedly  if it was another artist I might not give them that long.  Lebron James gets four steps on a break away and Daft Punk gets more than thirty seconds to hook me on a song and they usually succeed.

My favorite segment of the album is around the five minute mark in "Giorgio." The song starts out as a interview with Giorgia and slowly progresses into a fantastic jam. At the end of the song Thomas Bangalter  on base and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo on drums play like they have something to prove. A furious crescendo of drums, base, scratching and synthesizers clash and crash into something powerful and leaves you with your hair blown back.

Daft Punk hit the mark they were looking for with Random Access Memory, but I am afraid a majority of the people are looking at the targets behind them, the ones they have already shot down. This record is fun and beautiful but it is also a gauntlet thrown down as a challenge and a bread crumb. Its time to start pushing limits again in electronic music without just pushing buttons.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Connectivity. Making it Social.

If you are reading this you probably also read my post on Socially Awkward at Media. If not….well…you missed some serious blogging blather.  My Hollywood elevator pitch about it would be, it’s a blog post about a boy who doesn’t like Facebook and is bad at Tweets. Fade to black. Actually it is about trying to help myself understand what is lacking for me in Social Media. 
What is it we are looking for when someone says they want to connect?
It’s a question that to date I had not answered but one that would pop up fairly often on the minds big wheel of stupid questions. 
As with most things of relevance in modern life Forrest Gump seems to have had the answer. I will not give Forest all the credit, some will have to go to American Beauty and some will  go to authors, directors, priests and poets that were able to express what being truly connected feels like.  That feeling has a name and it seems to me that such an illusive emotion could not be labeled with such a modern sounding name as Connectivity.  We experience it in different ways but the symptoms are usually a rising joy in the chest, a lump in the throat, smiling and crying at the same time, and an expanding sensation of joy, peace and euphoria. 
I told you. That is a lot of good stuff for a name that is also used regularly by your cable guy.
Making people sad is like telling a narcoleptic to take a nap. Sadness and discontent is easy to convey and I do not respond to it very often in movies. 
Dead dog: Tragic.
Ten year olds mother has terminal cancer: Horrible.
Lovers torn apart by war: So sad, could you please pass the Twizzlers.
But conveying the sensation of connectivity is a challenge and a triumph. Show me a feather floating above a pensive looking Tom Hanks, and Dear Lord please help me keep the weeping to a respectable few drops.  If we are watching Shawshank Redemption and I step out of the room to get a drink every time Morgan Freeman starts a monologue its because I respect you and do not want you to see me cry. 
The term connect is a verbal crutch for social media but in truth it does not connect with all that much.  Snickering at snide comments on Twitter, Stalking old flames on Facebook and “CONNECTING” to the guy who sold me insurance on LInkedin actually feels more like getting to choose who you get stuck in a elevator with.  It can connect people but for the most part it only grazes them in passing because Social Media is designed for people to only have a one sided conversation.
This is all the stuff about me. Have some pictures of me. Look at what I just ate. Look at who I just met. Talking about ourselves feels good for a bit and having a constant platform to immediately express our feelings is comforting I guess but this self based model does little to actually improve a person or the world in general.  
If you want to grab my attention then connect me to something or someone on a huge level or a very intimate one. If you think you deserve to profit from me, market to me and have the privilege of knowing my search history then I think it fair that you actually connect me to more than just my ego.  Make me passionate about something and make me feel a part of it and I will be your biggest disciple. 
Sounds like a great business plan nobody has put into action yet. I don’t blame them, its hard to accomplish.
Truly connecting people to an idea, person, or thing takes more than most have the capacity for or others have the diligence for. It requires empathy, and clarity. It requires truth,  and who has the means to offer that up on a consistent basis?
 But make my chest expand with possibilities. Make my heart rise in my throat with realization and I will be your connection. I will be your customer. I will sell your product.  Tell me something significant and I will be your friend online and off.  Show me how I fit into something bigger than just my life and I will fill whatever role you need.
Feeling truly connected to something or someone is what most of us live for. Is anybody working on actually connecting us? Or is everyone fine with their single serving friend.  “Single serving friend.” Chuck Palahniuk gave us that gem in Fight Club. Chuck’s gift is making us feel that void in the gut when everything we are connected to is smaller than us. The effect is no less powerful in its opposition to the lifting joy of being a part of something bigger and the conclusion should be the same.
We all need to be connected and most of us will take anything we can get but we are all looking for so much more.  To the daring Start Ups who are looking to break open that next threshold to connect Man to Media to Man,  or the grass roots organizer who is looking to start a movement. Instead of rehashing the single serving friend model, I would implore you.  Give us a medium to be ourselves. Then show us how ourselves reaching out to others expands everything.
Falling feathers framed perfectly can show us the world. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Azaleas, spend most of the year looking just

inconspicuous enough to not get ripped out of the garden.

They take our breath away for less than a month.

But who could say that they do not earn their place.

Socially Awkward at Media.

      My reluctance to become part of the social media madness has become a running joke among my friends and family. Considering my love of technology and fascination with how the internet is constantly changing the world, I should be neck deep in tweets and have Facebook friends out the Pinterest. I suppose I could give in to the pressure, get a Facebook page and never update the damn thing but now it has just become a matter of stubborn principle.

      I have a whole host of reasons I list for my digital hermitage whenever I am confronted with a Facebook zealot. My desire for privacy and concern for online security are my usual go too defenses in the case of The People of Facebook vs Adam. FInally when I get pushed into a corner I will indulge in the classic hipster tactic of indifferent disdain.

     My Facebook grudge aside, I sign up for other forms of social media all the time and usually as a very early adopter. I had high hopes for my twitter carrer but they have withered on a hashtag of #mehhh. I still have my account and I still read twitter from time to time but I find that it only adds to the clutter I have to sort through in my life. My one decent contribution to twitter was "If brevity is the heart of wit, Twitter has proved that forcing one does not guarantee the other."If that can't get a retweet then I have nothing else to offer the twits.  Turning the other cheek on my bruised ego, Twitter's role in recent world events has solidified it as a changing force but I have yet to figure out how to make it change my world.

    Google + was able to sneak into my life by leaching itself onto my gmail account and so you can find me there, but you won't find much. I made an attempt to set my digital house in order at Google + but keeping tidy and uncluttered digital existence seems an impossibility.  Open the door for an actual friend and before you can close it behind them they have infected your online existence with every piece of digital dust or bacteria of passing interest that clings to them.

    You will find my email address attached to a dozen music/social media abominations with another host of startup ideas meant to connect me to someone because of something. Perhaps that is the equation that social media operates on. Me + Someone x Something = Startup.  A detailed list of all those services would be a fun and funny exercise but like all things relating to exercise, we can do that later.

    I can keep handing out valid reasons that I don't have a Facebook page or never send a Tweet or only check my LinkedIn account every other week or I can just tell you the truth. The truth is, I don't get it. Whatever that thing is that makes people enjoy and connect over social media, I do not get that thing. Four years ago that was a truth that was no big deal. Four years ago not being relevant in Social Media had about as much impact as not being good at Polo. Now, it matters.

    Understanding people is something I have always been good at. Give me ten minutes with a person one on one and they will probably like me. Making friends and putting people at ease has never been a challenge for me, and it is a gift that most of us take for granted.  When I was in school, those kids who would have obviously been diagnosed with mild to severe Aspergers today were just the weird kids. I think I am beginning to understand a little how they must feel.

    The fact that I did not want to be part of Facebook was actually irritating to some of my friends and family. It kept creeping into conversations and then for a while it became the conversation. It made me realize that me being uncomfortable with certain types of social media made me the weird kid.  Then I started hearing about potential employers that will look at you with suspicious concern if you do not have a Facebook account and started wondering how big of a problem this might be. My concern grew after reading this article http://mashable.com/2012/08/07/no-facebook-psychopath/ and seeing myself as the harried outcast in a near future cyberpunk novel.

    The truth is that I do not understand people and how they behave in social media. I never feel like I need to add a tweet and the thought rarely crosses my mind to see if other people have.
I am going to read my article on Bitcoins and not feel compelled to like it, plus it, rub it, spank it, or share it with anyone in anyway. I understand the language but I do not understand why they use it. I am just awkward with social media.

   If Aspergers is a condition that makes it hard for sufferers to interact with other people face to face, I must suffer a digital variant. I would like to be the first to make people aware of a condition I call Dickhotdogs.

If you suffer from low to no Facebook friends, Tweets that never get retweeted, and a fear of people viewing your profile, then your personality probably falls somewhere on the Dickhotdogs spectrum. At the moment Dickhotdogs is no big deal. But I can see a day where it might be. A time when my made up condition with a funny name and the real condition with a funny name have similar effects on the quality of a persons life.

I guess it's possible that I do not have Dickhotdogs. I suppose it's possible that I just don't like the products being offered. Perhaps not liking the way everything in social media gets cluttered and demanding some shred of privacy does not make me socially awkward in media.

I am not in the majority but I think there are a lot of people out there like me. Some put on a brave face and do what must be done to keep up appearances and some will never put a face on it at all. Maybe we all suffer from an undiagnosed condition with a hilarious name.  I find it much more likely that I and others like me want a better product. We want it more intuitive, more meaningful, with better design and more user control. I want a product that will not pimp out every detail about my life and some guarantee that what I say will never reasonably be used against me for any legal purpose.

At the moment this is too much to ask, but I will keep looking. I want to fit in, I really do. Until then, I will be lurking on Reddit wearing my Dickhotdogs awareness bracelet.



Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dissecting Joy

Dissecting Joy

Last Wednesday I picked my daughter up from school for an early dismissal and went fishing.  My daughter will declare any fun day to be the best day ever at the drop of a hat. Myself being much more jaded will happily declare that it was indeed one of the best days ever.

There was a surplus of smiles that day but I was not able to take a picture of the smile that sticks with me. This particular smile touched a spot that only the fathers of amazing little girls have.

On the way to the pond I looked over in the passenger seat to see her with the window down, arm reaching out to touch the passing world. A look of pure uplifting joy on her face. I know kids are not supposed to ride in the front seat but that was part of what was bringing that smile to her face. Leaving school early, sitting in the front seat, silly rules did not apply that day and part of the joy she was feeling was freedom.

We have always enjoyed riding in the car with loud music. We have been doing it since before she could walk and if she ever has hearing problems I will feel horrible but blaring fun music with your kid is a joy all its on.

That days selection was Bob Marley and it was just the right soundtrack for a perfect day.  She was singing out-loud "I'm a rainbow too."

I watched her with an expanding spirit of pure happy love in my chest. She knew she was being watched but kept singing loud and smiling louder. He aura of happiness was infectious and I did not ruin the effect by thinking to much about it.  But that evening I took a moment to dissect that perfect slice of time in the hopes of being able to create more of it.

I think the most important thing is being with someone you can be happy. A friend, lover or family member you feel free enough to express uninhibited happiness with sets the stage for joy.

The second ingredient is action. The doing of something, the going of someplace.  A totally different kind of happiness is found in a lazy day but as great emotions go I will take adventure and discovery every time.

Lastly, the feeling that you are doing something special. This gives you the ability to appreciate what you are doing because you would normally be doing something more mundane.

I think as a Father, Spouse, Boss, or Friend we all have the responsibility to give this kind of joy a chance. To set aside the time, to pick a destination or activity and be the kind of person someone is not afraid to share happiness with.

This kind of joy is rare and making all  of these efforts will rarely produce the moment I am talking about, but that moment is not what you should be chasing. This kind of emotion is a byproduct of just doing the right thing. We should be chasing time with people we love and like. We should be chasing the desire to make someone else feel special.  The chase will be worth it.  There is no distance I can't run to give to give her all the chances in the world to feel it.

I'm a rainbow too.